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Ray Rice should start in fantasy leagues this week, while Joe Flacco should be benched.
Even though the Cowboys are facing a tough Ravens defense, most of Dallas' skill players are must-starts in fantasy this week.
Tony Romo, as always, is a must start. Despite last week's poor performance, I still believe that Romo is an elite fantasy quarterback, and could end up being one of the five best fantasy quarterbacks in 2012. Unless you've got somebody like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, you'd better be starting Romo.
Josh Freeman hasn't proven enough to me to warrant a fantasy start -- unless you're in a really deep league. Freeman is best left for the bench, or even the waiver wire, depending on your league. Sit Freeman.
DeMarco Murray, much like Romo, is a must start. Murray has RB1 potential each week, and at worst, is a very, very solid RB2 to start.
Doug Martin, meanwhile, is a decent RB2 option, and a very good flex play option. He's received at least 20 carries in each of Tampa Bay's first two games, and there's nothing to suggest that will change. Start Martin.
Kevin Ogletree, though, should be left on the bench for this week. There's no reason to expect a Week 1-esque outburst from him. Sit Ogletree.
Vincent Jackson is definitely a must start for the Buccaneers. No other Bucs wide receiver is worth starting.
I warned everybody to avoid Jason Witten in fantasy drafts, and so far, he's done little to prove me wrong. Witten has just six catches on the season for 68 yards. You've probably got better options at this point, but if you don't, you're forced to start him. Assuming you can find a younger, health tight end -- sit Witten.
Likewise, sit Dallas Clark.
In case you were asleep at the wheel last week, Kevin Ogletree had a breakout game in Week 1, catching eight balls for 114 yards and two touchdowns -- good enough to put himself in the top five or ten of all fantasy scorers in Week 1 (depending on your scoring system).
Needless to say, Ogletree was quite the popular waiver wire pickup this week, and is now owned in 74% of all Yahoo! leagues, though that number is probably a bit low.
Still, it's just one game from Dallas' No. 3 receiver. What can expectations realistically be for Ogletree?
Well, last year, Laurent Robinson was Dallas' No. 3 wide receiver, and he put up a respectable season line, with 54 receptions for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns, solid fantasy numbers and consequently, Robinson found himself a little bit richer this offseason after inking a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Still, Robinson's numbers were bumped up a bit because of injuries to Miles Austin, thrusting Robinson into a more featured role. Because of that, it's a bit unfair to use Robinson's numbers in 2011 as an accurate comparison for Ogletree.
Ogletree, though, does boast fantasy relevance. Just how much, though, remains to be seen. Ogletree should certainly be owned in all 12 team and deeper leagues, and owners should mostly take a "wait and see" approach on how Dallas utilizes him in the coming weeks.
If you're going to start Ogletree this week, I can't blame you -- but I hope it'd be out of a flex position, or WR3. Expecting Ogletree to replicate his success last week is going to be foolish, but hey, anything is possible.
Dallas' skill players on offense figure to boast another week of nice numbers this week, as the Cowboys head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. While Seattle is never an easy place to play, the Cowboys have had extra time to prepare for this game, since Dallas' season opener came last Wednesday.
As always, Tony Romo is a must-start against the Seahawks. There's not going to be a game where I recommend benching Romo, unless his entire offensive line is on injured reserve.
DeMarco Murray, likewise, is a must-start. There's no reason to consider benching him, and he's a borderline RB1, very good RB2 this week.
Similarly, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are both must-starts if you own them as well. If you scooped up Kevin Ogletree, I'd consider using him in a flex position, or as a WR3. Since we live in the iTunes society where everybody expects instant gratification, some owners out there may expect Ogletree to replicate his Week 1 results. He could, but it's not likely. He's fine to start in a flex play, or as a WR3, but as anything more, you're rolling the dice.
Jason Witten is borderline. I wasn't huge on him for fantasy purposes coming into this season, and I'm especially not huge on him as he recovers from an internal injury. I'd start him if you don't have a better option, which you probably don't if he's on your team, but again, temper expectations a bit on him.
As for Dallas' defense, they're probably worth starting this week too. Russell Wilson does not impress me, and Seattle's wide receivers aren't anything to write home about. Yeah, it's a nice home field advantage for the Seahawks, but Rob Ryan should be able to confuse Wilson.
The 2012 NFL season kicks off on Wednesday night, when the Dallas Cowboys head to New Jersey to take on the New York Giants. As such, fantasy football season also officially begins -- even though there's just one game on Wednesday.
Since we don't know a whole lot about what either the Cowboys or Giants will be like this year, you're best off starting all of the major skill players in the game.
Tony Romo is definitely a must-start, despite facing a defense with an excellent pass rush. Romo has top 10 QB potential this year, and if the Cowboys stay healthy, he could be a top five fantasy quarterback.
Wide receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant also need to be started as well. Both have WR1 potential, and at worst, are WR2s on Wednesday night. If you've got two better receivers than either of them, then you'll probably be using your flex play on either Cowboy receiver.
DeMarco Murray is also a must-start.
Jason Witten, meanwhile, can be safely benched for Week 1. Witten has been listed as doubtful for Wednesday night's game.
On the opposite side of things, Eli Manning can safely be started, as can Victor Cruz. Hakeem Nicks is a bit risky, though, with his foot problem. Still, I'd probably start him against the Cowboys, until Dallas' secondary proves that they can stop the pass.
Earlier this week, I wrote that Justin Blackmon is worth a flyer in the later rounds of your fantasy draft. Like Blackmon, former Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright is worth a roster spot, as fantasy owners look to strike gold late in drafts.
Wright was drafted in the first round by the Tennessee Titans in the 2012 NFL Draft, with the No. 20 overall pick. Expectations, though, should be tempered for Wright, as he's probably not going to be awesome immediately in the NFL -- very few wide receivers are.
Wright, however, could be a weapon as he and Jake Locker look to develop a rapport as the year goes on.
Like Blackmon, Wright has to deal with a second-year quarterback, and that could hinder Wright's production as Locker learns how to become an NFL quarterback.
Yahoo! Sports has Wright ranked as the No. 48 fantasy wide receiver headed into this year, ahead of Randy Moss. I'd say that's about right.
If you're counting on Wright to be a contributor immediately to your team, then you're probably in a really, really deep league, or you're a poor fantasy GM. Do not plan on Wright to help you right away, but pick him, and stash him away, hoping that he and Locker get on the same page.
Every fantasy owner is always looking to uncover the latest and greatest diamond in the rough toward the end of his or her fantasy draft. Since the NFL has turned so passing heavy, it's wise to invest in two capable quarterbacks for your team -- in case of injury, or just inconsistent play to your QB1.
When you're digging for a quarterback late in your draft, you can probably avoid Brandon Weeden. Weeden, who spent his collegiate career at Oklahoma State, is pre-ranked as the No. 27 quarterback in fantasy football by Yahoo! Sports.
There's not really a lot to like about Weeden's fantasy potential as a rookie. Sure, he's older than most rookies, but Cleveland's offensive situation isn't exactly ideal, although he can potentially lean on Trent Richardson and the running game to take some pressure off of him.
Still, the Browns lack true, established playmakers on offense. That fact, coupled with Weeden's inexperience, make Weeden a fantasy player to avoid.
Though most fantasy football drafts are done in snake format, some are done in an auction format -- including one of my leagues. Last night, we held our auction draft, and not surprisingly, some of Dallas' skill players provided excellent value.
First, the league basics: 12 teams, $200 budget, .5 point per reception for wide receivers, 6 points for all touchdowns, 25 yards per point QB, 10 yards per point for WR/RB.
As expected, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo went relatively cheaply compared to the other big quarterbacks. Romo went for just $20, compared to Aaron Rodgers ($58), Drew Brees ($48) or Tom Brady ($50).
Romo has been constantly underrated in draft pre-rankings, so it's no surprise that he could be a steal in auction drafts.
Much maligned wide receiver Dez Bryant went for $22 -- the same price as Jeremy Maclin, and cheaper than Marques Colston ($25) and Percy Harvin ($25). Bryant likely provides some pretty excellent value there, but, between his risk, potential and what he's accomplished, $22 seems about right.
Miles Austin, injury problems and all, went for $24, which is cheaper than other WR1 such as Roddy White ($31), Julio Jones ($30), Calvin Johnson ($41), or A.J. Green ($31). Provided Austin stays healthy, it's pretty excellent value, but there is a pretty considerable injury risk with him.
DeMarco Murray, meanwhile, went for $31. Compared to Arian Foster ($52), Ray Rice ($53) and LeSean McCoy ($57 !!!), Murray looks like excellent value at $31, as long as he stays healthy. Felix Jones has looked awful in camp, and doesn't figure to threaten Murray for the starting gig.
Jason Witten, who doesn't figure to be a major fantasy factor at tight end, went for $10. If you're looking to play it cheap at tight end, you can do a lot worse than Witten while you focus on the other areas of your team.
So, there you have it. As expected, Dallas' skill players provided good value in the draft, and they likely will in your draft, regardless of if you're using a snake or auction style draft.
Jonathan Tjarks, Robbie Griffin and JP Starkey sit down and talk fantasy football draft strategies, and try to forecast how well Dallas' skill players will do in 2012.
With the NFL, and subsequently fantasy leagues, becoming more passing oriented, it's equally important to have consistent wide receiver production as it is consistent running back production.
Most everyone is familiar with the wide receivers at the top of draft boards -- Julio Jones, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Roddy White and Larry Fitzgerald are probably going to have excellent years.
Drafts, however, can be won and lost in the later rounds.
Former Oklahoma State product Justin Blackmon could be a player that helps you win your fantasy league. As a rookie receiver, Blackmon has plenty of risks, especially since he got a late start to training camp.
The risk is twofold with Blackmon -- he's a rookie wide receiver with a second year quarterback in Blaine Gabbert, who struggled mightily as a rookie in 2011.
However, there is no denying Blackmon's talent. Ranked as 43rd best fantasy receiver by Yahoo! Sports, Blackmon profiles as a bench player at first, or maybe a flex play.
Blackmon probably isn't going to help you immediately. In fact, you'd be foolish to start him in Week 1 under the premise that he'll actually contribute and help you win.
Blackmon, though, could easily help you later in the season, as he and Gabbert (presumably) develop a rapport.
He's not worth taking in the early rounds, but Blackmon is definitely worth targeting in the later rounds as fantasy owners look for unexpected production later in the draft.
Most fantasy football drafts will occur this week, as the NFL wraps up the final week of preseason play.
Unless you've been asleep at the wheel for the past few years, you've certainly realized that quarterback has become one of, if not the, most important position on your fantasy team. Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Cam Newton alone have likely won many fantasy owners their leagues in the last five years.
Baylor alumnus Robert Griffin III is ranked quite highly in pre-draft rankings. The folks over at Yahoo! Sports have RG3 ranked as the No. 12 fantasy quarterback this season -- ranked ahead of established QBs such as Ben Roethlisberger and Jay Cutler.
It's difficult, if not impossible, to forecast the type of year Griffin III will have for the Redskins this year. At the very least, he'll be an exciting player to watch, and he should be an above average player out of the gate. Expecting him to have a 2011 Cam Newton-esque season, though, is expecting too much.
If you're going to ignore your quarterback position until the middle rounds, that's fine, there are plenty of good quarterbacks in the league. It's risky, though, to rely on RG3 as your starter immediately. Sure, the upside is there, but the downside is considerable too, and having a poor quarterback could ruin your fantasy season.
I'd grab RG3 in the later rounds of my draft as my backup and hope for the best.
Though many fantasy football leagues have switched to an IDP (individual defensive player), many still use team defenses for fantasy defenses -- including my league.
Despite the fact that the Dallas Cowboys have revamped their secondary by adding Brandon Carr and drafting Maurice Claiborne, Yahoo! Sports doesn't think much of Dallas' defense for fantasy purposes. The Cowboys are ranked as the eighth-worst fantasy defense headed into 2012, meaning, they should go undrafted in just about every fantasy draft.
The usual suspects are atop Yahoo!'s list, with the San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears occupying the top four spots. There's seldom any good reason to draft a team defense early, so you're better off letting somebody else in your draft reach for any of those defenses.
I'm not sure I agree with Yahoo!'s assessment in this case. For the most part, team defenses can be a crap shoot headed into the year, at least for fantasy purposes. Rob Ryan's defensive scheme relies heavily on the secondary doing its job, so that Ryan can get creative with his blitz packages. If Carr and Claiborne play to their abilities, then Dallas' defense could force a lot of turnovers and register a lot of sacks.
Dallas' safeties are cause for concern, though, as they are easily the weak link in the secondary, and on Dallas' defensive unit as a whole.
If you're stuck at the end of the draft and you're looking for a defense to gamble on, Dallas isn't a bad choice, and neither is another much maligned defense as of late -- the New England Patriots. New England used a pair of first round picks and spent nearly the whole draft revamping the defense.
You could do a lot worse for a fantasy defense than the Cowboys or Pats toward the very end of your draft. And even if they don't work out, you can always just stream defenses weekly and just pick out the best matchup on the free agent wire.
Running backs are seen as the fuel of most fantasy teams, as it's a very difficult position to fill with elite talent, since there are so few elite running backs. This rings even more true in 2012 when the league has become so pass happy, coupled with the dreaded running back by committee, that the days of the 300+ carry backs are quickly fading.
Per Fake Teams, SB Nation's fantasy blog, Murray is ranked as the No. 8 running back in 2012, for fantasy purposes. Fake Teams puts him in the second tier of running backs, with the likes of Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden and Jamaal Charles -- very, very good backs.
Here's what Mike Gallagher, who put together the rankings for Fake Teams, had to say about Murray.
Murray is on the rise. His broken foot was never really a concern, but at least it's reassuring to see he's claiming to be fully recovered. All signs point to him being featured and former first-round pick Felix Jones looks to be no more than a handcuff. Felix Jones is also expected to be used as a return which solidifies Murray even more.
If you're going to be a Murray owner, you might as well take a flyer on Jones as a handcuff, as Gallagher points out.
Still, Murray is ranked among the league's very best backs, and will almost certainly be off your league's draft board by the end of the second round. If, for whatever reason, he's still there as you enter round three or later, be sure to pick him up and don't look back.
Last year, we saw New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski emerge as not only one of the best players in all of football, but as one of the best fantasy football players. Gronk managed to haul in 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and an astounding 17 touchdowns, carrying both the Patriots and fantasy teams alike.
This year, you can expect players like Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis to go fairly early in your fantasy draft. Graham and Gronkowski are projected by Yahoo! to be taken in the early part of the second round -- which might be too early for a tight end in your book.
If you're going to wait on a tight end, there's nothing wrong with Jason Witten. Witten is a fairly safe pick, provided Tony Romo is healthy. In 2011, Witten caught 79 passes, tied for fifth among tight ends, for 942 yards, which was third among tight ends. Witten's fantasy problem last year was that he only caught five touchdowns, which puts him in the middle of the pack fantasy wise.
This year, Yahoo! has Witten ranked as the eighth best tight end, and as the No. 70 fantasy player. He's solid value, but he's probably not going to be somebody who can carry your team. If you're going to stock up on talent in the first five or six rounds and Witten is still there for you, then yes, he's a solid choice.
If you're looking for an upside pick, though, somebody like Jermichael Finley provides better value. He has a better quarterback in a more efficient offense, and is entering his age 25 season, whereas Witten will be 30.
Again, Witten is a fine pick, with a really nice fantasy floor. He's just not somebody I'd draft hoping to hit fantasy gold.
It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys could have one of the more explosive offenses in the National Football League in 2012. The Cowboys, when healthy, will have Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Austin Miles leading the offensive attack -- and every one of those players has big time playmaking ability.
With how vertical the league has become, both Miles and Bryant could provide a pretty big boost to your fantasy team. Though they boast tons of talent, they are both risky players to draft.
Yahoo! Sports ranks Miles and Bryant No. 14 and No. 19 among wide receivers, respectively. That makes Miles a borderline WR1 and excellent WR2, while it makes Bryant a very solid WR2, but with WR1 potential.
One of the problems surrounding both wide outs is health. Miles was plagued by injuries last year, which limited him to just 43 receptions in 10 games, and he's already suffered a hamstring strain in camp.
Bryant, who is entering his third year, has had his share of off the field problems, and also has some tightness in his hamstring. Bryant is a game-time decision for Dallas' Monday Night Football preseason opener against the Raiders on Monday night as a consequence.
Drafting either Miles or Bryant is somewhat of a risk, but it's a risk that yields a heavy reward. Both wide receivers need to stay healthy, and equally importantly, they need Tony Romo to stay healthy, too.
I would be comfortable taking either player no earlier than the late third round, and if they're left on the board in the fourth or fifth rounds, they could easily provide a steal.
Tony Romo is one of many Dallas Cowboys who could provide a significant boost to your fantasy team in 2012.
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